ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
South Africa v West Indies, World Cup 2011, Group B, Delhi
After all the questions, finally South Africa play
The Preview by Firdose Moonda
February 23, 2011
February 24, Delhi
Start time 14:30 local time (09:00 GMT)
It's been exactly a month since South Africa last played an ODI and almost every minute of the days spent between their victory over India in Centurion and this moment has been consumed with how they will approach the World Cup. Questions have floated in the air about every possible aspect of South Africa's squad and strategy. Even after they have been answered, they've managed to find a mouth-to-mouth way of being resuscitated and asked again, in a slightly different way.
How many spinners will they play? Will the middle order prove strong enough? Can the quicks do the job in the subcontinent? How much is expected of a squad with 11 World Cup debutants? Will they choke again?
After all that, it's no wonder that South Africa are itching to get onto the field as soon as possible so that the cricket can start and the questions can end, or at least change. Even though South Africa have talked down the pressure, the truth is it has gone nowhere. After five failed attempts to raise the World Cup with five squads more than capable of raising it, patience is running out. The match against the West Indies on Thursday is not so much about the opposition as it is about starting the campaign with the kind of intent that will tell their critics and fans how serious they are about doing the business this time.
For West Indies, it's pressure of a completely different kind. They have slipped below Bangladesh in the ODI rankings to ninth spot and this World Cup presents them with an opportunity to show that they can still be counted among the top nations in international cricket. They've had difficult series in the recent past, against Sri Lanka and South Africa, and give the impression of a side that may fire now and again but struggles to find consistency in prolonged series.
They're aiming for the quarter-finals and the format could well see them get there, but they will have to achieve at least three "onces" to achieve that. In personnel they have the capability, so it's the mindset they'll have to get right. Their match against South Africa is being touted as the first marquee one of the tournament, although England against the Netherlands rubbished that assumption. To make an impact in this one could serve them well in the coming weeks.
(Most recent first for the last five completed games):
South Africa: WWLLW
West Indies: LLLLL
Pitch and Conditions
The Kotla has not hosted an international since December 2009 when a dangerous pitch forced the ODI between India and Sri Lanka to be abandoned after 23 overs. It has since been re-laid under the supervision of the BCCI ground and wickets committee chairman Venkat Sundaram and ICC pitch consultant Andy Atkinson, who have said it will provide an even contest between bat and ball. There was a hint of green on the surface which could favour seam and bounce. The outfield is lush but with Delhi's warm, clear afternoons and chilly nights, dew is likely to be a factor here.
Watch out for
The last 12 months in one-day cricket have been raining runs for Hashim Amla. He has scored 1308 runs in 20 matches at an average of 72.66, but beyond the numbers his style with the bat has done the talking. Amla has gone from being a careful customer to a flamboyant flasher and has been seen going wild in the first ten overs of an innings. When he gets it right, which is most of the time, a big score is one the cards.
Darren Bravo has been talked up as the next Brian Lara. The younger Bravo has only played 13 matches with a top score of 74 against Canada. He also gave a respectable enough account of himself against South Africa in May last year and if ever there was a stage big enough to show he can fill Lara's boots, this is it.
South Africa's big conundrum is how many spinners they should use. On a track that shows specks of green, they may feel justified in playing their three-pronged seam attack and two frontline spinners. Given the trust they have shown in Johan Botha and the form of Robin Peterson, it's likely that Imran Tahir will have to wait a little longer to make his international debut.
South Africa (probable): 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Faf du Plessis, 7 Robin Peterson, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe
West Indies are likely to go with only one spinner and it will probably be Sulieman Benn which means Nikita Miller will be sitting on the bench. Their pace attack will be led by Ravi Rampaul and Kemar Roach.
West Indies (probable): 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Devon Smith, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Ravi Rampaul, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Sulieman Benn
Stats and Trivia
- South Africa have beaten the West Indies in the last 11 ODIs the two sides have contested. That includes a match in the 2007 World Cup and a series both at home and in the Caribbean. The last time West Indies registered a win against South Africa was in 2006 in the Champions Trophy semi-final.
- West Indies have never lost a match at the Kotla. Of the seven matches they've played at the venue, only one was a one-dayer in 1989, where they beat India. South Africa have not played an ODI at the Kotla.
- The highest score and the lowest score at this ground both came in the same match. Pakistan scored 303 for 8 and bowled India out for 144.
- Kieron Pollard has not been dismissed in single figures against South Africa, although he only averages 24.00 against them.
"Consistency-wise, they haven't been as good as the other teams over a lengthy period of time but they have match-winners and that's why playing them in a one-off game makes them very dangerous."
Graeme Smith on why the West Indies can be a bogey team in a major tournament.
"We want to just see West Indies go out and play like we used to do in the eighties. As long as we go and give our best the fans will be happy."
Darren Sammy on his team wanting to get back that old Caribbean magic.
Stats highlights from the fourth day's play in Antigua where Ashwin's maiden five-wicket haul outside Asia bowled India to an innings victory
Also: the fastest Indian to 50 wickets, and Yasir Shah's unwanted "double-hundred"
Dav Whatmore talks about how things went downhill fast during his curtailed stint as Zimbabwe's coach
Shorter matches spell good news for spectators and broadcasters. Cricket has a little to lose and a whole lot to gain by truncating its premier format
A crushing victory over Pakistan gave England plenty to be pleased about but familiar concerns remain over the make-up of the side
Sri Lanka's lead spinner must feel like a bus driver in charge of a spluttering vehicle as the hosts strive to challenge a strong Australian side